How to be a Good Student

Annette Nay, Ph.D.

Copyright 2000

1. First Things First

Signing up for Classes

Calendaring & Planning

Getting Your Books Study Periods

Make sure that long study sessions includes breaks to refresh yourself and to let your brain relax for 15 minutes so it will be fresh and ready to study effectively.

Placement in the Class

Studies have proved that the student that get the best grades generally sit in the front row. It is not proven why this phenomena occurs. However, it is known that there are less distractions and higher interaction with the professor. Student in the front row can hear better. Since these student think they will be called on more often, they may prepare for class better.

2. A Good Student Knows His/Her Resources

Know Your Books

The Library

Class Notes Keeping Your Notes in Order Files Class Mates Study Groups

Past Tests

3. Mnemonic Methods to Memorize Material


These are words in which each letter represents a concept or idea.

Alphabetical Order

Putting letters in alphabetical order and memorizing them as such, give order to the mass letters and helps you bring it back to your remembrance. Sometimes a letter will be repeated more than once. Write the item with the number of repetitions as "B to the power of 3, if it appears three times.

Example: A, B3, D, F, H, L2, R

Visualization with a Poem

Use a familiar poem to help you memorize items. Example: One two buckle my shoe. See the item on your shoe. Three four shut the door. See the next item hanging on the door. Continue the poem and visualize another items at the end of each stanza.


Put the items you need to memorize to music. This is how I learned to spell encyclopedia. To spell Mississippi, I just but it to a chant or beat without music.

Place Visualization

See yourself at your front door. In your mind, put an item you are to remember by the door. Open the door and your in the entry. Visualize the next item to be memorize in the entry. Now your going up the stairs. See the next item on the stairs. At the top of the stairs is the kitchen. Visualize what is in the kitchen. Now go down the hall. What's in the hall? Now your in the master bedroom, what is there? Look into the master bedroom closet, what is there? Check out the bathroom, what's in there?

Now, practice seeing yourself go from place to place, in order, visualizing the place and item together as you go. Repeat this as often as needed to recall the items in order.


You have three types of memory: instant recall, short term memory, and long term memory. Instant recall is memory that you recall just after hearing it. Its total extent is normally seven digits long, like the length of a phone number. With some practice the instant memory can be moved into short term memory.

Short term memory is memory that has been rehearsed to the point that you will remember for a few hours or less. Rehearsing it further will move it into long term memory. Since the mind can instantly remember seven items, those seven items can each be expanded to represent massive amounts of material. This is done by making each of the seven items represent a total concept, hence the word chunking. Each concept could be brought to memory by the use of one or more mnemonic. In fact, the elements in the seven digit space could be also represented as an anachronism.

4. Old Fashion Memorization with a Twist

Going over and over the material until it moves from short term to long term memory is very important. After using all the gimmicks that mnemonics has to offer, the material still has to be rehearsed over and over again, over time. It is suggested that the information is rehearsed at least once every day to be ready for test time. This may seem impossible at first because a lot of memorization has to take place.

  1. Memorize the anachronism the key word represent.
  2. Memorize the keywords and the concept each represents.
  3. Memorize the anachronism with the visualization picture of the represented subject.
  4. Place a thumbnail-sized sketch of the picture and the anachronism on the front of a 3x5 card. Place the keywords of the anachronism on the back.
  5. Take the cards with you everywhere and use them. These can be recited while driving, exercising, eating, dressing, waiting for class to start, waiting in check out lines, for doctor appointments, or other odd moments.
  6. After the mnemonics are brought to mind by the pictures, take a 3x5 card and doodle a thumbnail-sized sketch of each of the pictures. The string of pictures alone should help you recall entire chapters. This is done at least every day with the old and new material covered until the final. This stops the all-night cramming before tests or finals. Only a quick daily over view is needed, because the material is now in long term storage.

Annette Nay, Ph.D.

Annette Nay Homepage

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